BCom Marketing and Public Relations, Curtin University
Current Job Title/Designation and name of company
VR3D, Free Tree Society
Tell us briefly about your current job and company.
I work at VR3D, focusing on designing sustainable buildings. I am also the Co-Founder and President of Free Tree Society.
The Free Tree Society Kuala Lumpur (FTS) spreads the environmental stewardship message through giving away trees for free to green our Earth. Since 2013, we have given away over 34,100 plants to homeowners, schools, marginalized groups, community gardens and wildlife habitats to proliferate planting, to encourage biodiversity and to promote a love of nature.
FTS operates through 3 programme sites, our Bangsar Nursery, Taman Tugu Nursery and an outreach programme called FTS On-the-Go.
The free trees are all grown with the help of volunteers. Volunteer sessions give urbanites an opportunity to take the first step toward engaging with environmental conservation. Sessions begin with an environmental talk on biodiversity and climate change, followed by a demonstration of environmental solutions including rainwater harvesting, wildlife habitats, and composting. We teach the basics behind mixing soil, planting seeds, propagation, transplanting, natural pest repellents, plant management, gardening maintenance and basic landscaping. We have trained over 13,000 environmental stewards with the goal of growing a greener Malaysian society.
At the Bangsar Nursery our focus is on planting edibles, fruit trees and ornamental plants for homeowners, schools and community gardens. The focus at Taman Tugu Nursery is geared towards increasing biodiversity in urban forests and reforestation projects.
FTS On-the-Go is a free mobile educational awareness outreach programme created just for schools and universities. Through hands-on workshops and talks FTS On-the-Go serves to tackle school-related and community environmental areas of concern. Our tailor-made educational programmes which combine knowledge, resources, and hands-on models are crafted to suit students of different ages and abilities. Our green truck made a visit to the Primary Campus, Jalan Bellamy, last term to talk about waste and conduct a composting workshop with the Year 3 children. Since its launch in April On-the-Go has visited over 30 schools beautifying them with over 800 plants and trees in hands-on activities with school children.
What is your most memorable experience in school?
I was in The Alice Smith School from 1983 to 1988. Back then the girls wore the gingham all the way through primary, a sore point for me as a tomboy. It didn’t stop me from tearing across the field every break and lunch to play run across. After leaving school I don’t think I wore another dress until I turned 16!
A favourite memory is of the old art room. It was a large, open aired space that smelled of clay and paint. The backdrop was a huge saga tree. I remember having to take bark rubbings and try to draw it.
Two other fond memories are of the furry iron-on letters on our PE kits and the painted jungle mural at the Year 1 dismissal area.
What were your favourite and least favourite subjects in school, and why?
Sports, as I remembered tearing across the field during break or lunchtime to play runacross. I liked Art as well; a favourite memory was being in the art room, where its backdrop was a huge saga tree. I also loved the painted jungle mural outside the Year 1 dismissal area.
The least was probably Bahasa Malaysia. It was introduced as a compulsory subject when I was about 9 years old and languages have never been a forte of mine, my two worst subjects included BM and French.
What extracurricular activities did you do?
There weren’t the choices available like there are today. My favourite extracurricualr activity was Brownies. Working towards an assortment of badges meant that the club had a variation of activities. I finished up my time as a Brownie as six pack leader of the Pixies.
What was the best thing about your school? What important lessons did you learn in your school that have helped you in your life?
Fast forward a few decades and I enrolled my firstborn here, at Alice Smith too. Gone was the art room, and in its place was a teacher’s lounge! Now, that too has been replaced by the new dining hall and Jubilee Center.
There have been so many changes as my three children have grown up at the school, my eldest completing her Year 13 just a few months ago. Although I can remember what the school was like, the developments do make you feel proud that the school is keeping relevant and is readily and actively improving.
I mentioned the saga tree and mural as two of my favourite school memories. However, it wasn’t a childhood experience but one as a parent at the Primary Campus, Jalan Bellamy, that launched Free Tree Society. It was by the Reception classes that I began a conversation with a fellow class mum, Bettina Khan, telling her about my idea of giving away free trees to green all the ugly urban concrete. Long story short, Bettina came on board, we rallied together a committee and registered an environmental NGO within four short months.
Being at Alice Smith has always been special to me and through my time there and now with my children in school, it has a lifelong relationship with me.
If you could travel back in time, what is the one thing that you would change when you were a student?
I'd always wanted to do gymnastics but my mother didn’t let me, thinking that I’d hurt myself. I’d love to go back and give it a go!
What advice would you give to current students of your alma mater?
At the end of last year, I was involved as part of the school’s Eco-Community Day. It was great seeing my alma mater sharing their new journey into creating a sustainable future for the students and our community. If you are a student at Alice Smith now, I encourage you to join the sustainable actions organised by the school and double the effort by making similar changes at home to help fight against issues of environmental concerns. Your support will not only improve our community’s wellbeing but contribute towards a lasting impact in tackling climate change.